Patterico's Pontifications

1/7/2010

Fort Hood Shooter May Claim Insanity

Filed under: Crime,Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:43 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Army is proceeding with a mental status hearing for Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Hasan’s defense attorney may assert an insanity defense:

“Defense attorneys for accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan are racing to collect evidence that could show their client is insane before a psychiatric evaluation is completed.

The Army on Wednesday evening told Maj. Hasan’s defense lawyers that it had convened a so-called sanity board to evaluate whether Maj. Hasan is fit to stand trial. The three-person panel is expected to make a recommendation by the end of February, a timeline that has defense attorneys frustrated.”

The Army has reportedly appointed a prosecutor with experience rebutting an insanity defense:

“Defense attorneys faced a similar challenge in the case of Hasan Akbar, an Army sergeant accused of killing two U.S. soldiers in a grenade attack in the early days of the Iraq war. Sgt. Akbar’s lawyers argued he had a history of depression and was too mentally ill to be capable of premeditation.

In 2005, an Army jury found Sgt. Akbar guilty and sentenced him to death. The defense is appealing the verdict. Col. Michael Mulligan, the officer who prosecuted Sgt. Akbar, recently joined the team that will prosecute Maj. Hasan.”

The article speculates the defense will point out Hasan acted oddly before the shooting, including that “he lived in a cramped one-bedroom apartment, a place far smaller than he could have afforded on his salary” and that “he gave away many of his belongings” just prior to the shootings. However, it seems to me this conduct will further open the door to testimony that Hasan’s motive was jihad. While it’s probably inevitable that this motive will be raised at trial, I’m not sure the defense wants to help prove it in a preliminary hearing.

— DRJ

35 Responses to “Fort Hood Shooter May Claim Insanity”

  1. Maybe the defense has a case. Any fervent believer in Islamic sharia is probably certifiably insane.

    Brad (771eb0)

  2. A psych major committing murder and claiming insanity. Amazing concept.

    crosspatch (6adcc9)

  3. Jihadism is insanity on its face.

    Patricia (b05e7f)

  4. Shut. Up.

    Who would have guessed this line of defense?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  5. not to worry Major, allah will welcome all of you into paradise when we execute you. how you divvy up the 72 goats is something you might want to start w*rking on now though.

    the responding cop should have fired the “two more rounds” the victims were were evidently calling for when he took him down.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  6. How man jihadists, when caught, don’t use this defense?

    Bob Smith (a8b37c)

  7. The ones who succumb from their wounds?

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  8. It will surprise me if Hasan permits his lawyers to argue this defense, even at a preliminary hearing.

    Beldar (9fbb09)

  9. […] reading the report that Nidal Hasan may plead insanity, I’m reminded of this December 2009 Andy McCarthy post […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » “What On Earth is This Government Doing?” (e4ab32)

  10. As Brit Hume so succinctly put it this guy should look for treatment of his mental illness in scientology.

    Pinandpuller (ac62c3)

  11. If they can’t force “non-believers” into submission/conversion, Islam wants to kill all Christians, Jews, Gays, Buddhists, Hindus, conservatives, liberals, independents, etc.. If they were able to achieve the world they want, only Muslims would exist.

    That is a painful thing to understand, but reality is what it is. We’d be insane not to accept it for what is is.

    GeneralMalaise (68a574)

  12. Sounds like the way to go for the pantie
    bomber as well.

    Jack (e383ed)

  13. PSAs will appear TV from bipolar support organizations asserting that sufferers of this disease are loyal Americans.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  14. Or maybe, he was committed to Islam and
    sent his money to the ME to support his
    beliefs.

    Jack (e383ed)

  15. Hasan will plead insanity? He voluntarily wishes to subject himself to the therapeutic state? That’s insane. But if it’s his wish, let’s go full-psycho treatment on him: firehoses, electroshock, insulin shock, lobotomy, Rogerian psychological interviews, Rolfing, EST, etc. He’ll do what he’s told soon enough.

    tehag (ffaa30)

  16. My problem is not the plea.

    My problem is the sentence.

    He could declare jay walker and I would have his head chopped off, slapped on You-Tube and sent to Al Jazeera for good measure.

    I swear I would. Not one ounce of concern.

    HeavenSent (807fb3)

  17. Major Hasan isn’t crazy, the lunatics are the ones who refused to acknowledge his jihad, transferred him to Fort Hood for deployment to Afghanistan, and still refuse to see Hasan for the Islamic terrorist jihadi he so obviously is.

    Hasan would have had to lease a billboard to make himself and his intentions more clear. The Army refused to see the budding jihadi right in their own ranks even though the evidence was unambiguous, well documented, overwhelming, and leading to an inescapable conclusion.

    Major Hasan isn’t insane, he’s a devout Muslim who is following the teachings of Islam.

    ropelight (83de47)

  18. He should have been sent immediately to the comfort of Guantanamo. And left to rot. I was so hoping he wouldn’t survive his injuries, but thanks to good American medical care, he did.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  19. Well, the insanity defense is one of those areas where there is alot of misunderstandings on what we are really talking about.

    The rule isn’t just, “wow, you are a nut. okay, here is your get out of jail free card.” It varies significantly from state to state, but you can be pretty nuts and still guilty. Basically you have to be nuts the right way, and in most of those cases it has to make what you did a nonvolitional act of illegality. One classic example is that if you are so crazy that you think you are squeezing oranges, but in fact you are squeezing a person’s neck, then you are not guilty by reason of insanity. I also call it the “Ender’s Game” defense, for the sake of fans of the novel. And generally if you kill because you just love to kill people, yeah, you are nuts, but the law doesn’t allow that as an excuse.

    Of course what their options are depends on the exact test used in the relevant jurisdiction, so i can’t speak on alot more detail than that. This is one of the reaosns why most of the time when the insanity defense is invoked it fails.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  20. thank you US legal system (sarcasm)

    Anna (21c05a)

  21. Visit and insane asylum, the only difference in staff and patients is name tags with a logo.

    Scrapiron (4e0dda)

  22. I don’t understand why anyone here thinks an insanity defense will even take off, let alone fly.

    JEA (0ccd61)

  23. “I don’t understand why anyone here thinks an insanity defense will even take off, let alone fly.”

    Isn’t it obvious? After enjoying all that America has to offer (including a $500K education on the taxpayers’ dime) for his entire life, Hasan would have to be insane to murder Americans.

    GeneralMalaise (68a574)

  24. A truly effective diminished-capacity defense would be to convince the Court that Islam is an insane religion,
    and that to adhere to its’ tenents requires what is considered in contemporary Western society, insane acts.
    Allah made me do it!
    I just don’t think he would go there?

    AD - RtR/OS! (946807)

  25. This guy was able to socialize with military members for years, and somehow didn’t know it was wrong to shoot them?

    LOL. Good luck with your defense. I guess this is the lawyer’s only possible defense though. He might as well admit he did the deed, so this is all they have to work with.

    I feel sorry for his lawyers. What an awful job.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  26. AW, I believe UCMJ is similar to Fed Courts on this.

    Either he didn’t know the nature of what he was doing, or he didn’t know it was wrong.

    Since he did this in response to the horrible injustice of us killing terrorists in our wars, I think he knew and articulated the nature of what he was doing. He aligns himself with the other side of our war effort, says our violence is wrong, talks to the victims of violence all the time as a shrink, and goes out and attempts to even the score a little.

    I don’t know if a case can be made that he did that and then forgot that it would be wrong, but it sounds like a very tough sell.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  27. dustin

    well, most states don’t let you say, “i didn’t think it was wrong. they would only allow you to say, i didn’t think it was illegal.”

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  28. Perhaps he was not insane, just a little misguided?

    Hasan had trouble adjusting to life in the military, became bitter and started clinging a little too closely to his religion and guns?

    GeneralMalaise (68a574)

  29. Don’t miss the point: When Hasan started shooting at Fort Hood, he was convinced he was doing the right thing – – the right thing as defined, not by the laws and customs of Western tradition, but the right thing as defined by Islamic tradition.

    Hasan is a Muslim, he sees right and wrong in terms of of an absolute law running forward and back: If the Koran recommends it, it’s the right thing to do, and conversely, if the Koran forbids it, it’s wrong.

    Hasan even double checked, he confirmed his religious obligations in emails to his spiritual instructor. Hasan did what Islam requires of its adherents, and to a Muslim, that’s how right is differentiated from wrong.

    ropelight (83de47)

  30. AW, at least to my knowledge, most states determine that someone has a requisite mental illness and then if that illness interfered with the defendant’s ability to distinguish right from wrong.

    A lot have tightened up their laws a lot since 1981, due to Hinckley. A handful don’t permit such a defense, and it’s not very common (about 0.25% of defendants in Texas, I think, succeed in making this defense). Actually, I think the Model Penal Code is similar to what most states use. Some add something about being ‘in control’.

    And of course this isn’t state law for Hasan.

    Right and wrong, not legal and illegal. Even though it’s a legal question.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  31. Dustin

    Actually when these laws say “determine right from wrong” they actually usually mean legal/illegal. its one of the f—ed up ways our laws seem to say one thing and in fact mean something else. But in this case, i prefer that interpretation.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  32. Well, of course, what we’re talking about is if the defendant understand the ‘criminality’ of the offense.

    but it’s extremely incorrect to say that we are talking about whether or not the defendant knew what they were doing was illegal. I don’t think this distinction is hard to understand, but I guess the language has to parsed. Still, it’s not about whether Hasan knew or was confused about what the law was. It’s about whether he knew it was wrong.

    “the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts.”

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  33. Of course Major Hasan knew his acts were illegal according to US laws. However, it should be clear as a bell that he regarded the requirements of Islam as superior to the laws of man.

    ropelight (83de47)

  34. Dustin

    No, i am really telling you, this is black letter law. the statute says “the wrongfulness” but the courts almost unanimously interpret that to mean the “illegality” of the acts.

    For instance, in State v. Crenshaw, 659 P.2d 488 (Wash. 1983), the court stated that:

    > What is meant by the terms “right and wrong” refers to knowledge of a person at the time of committing an act that he was acting contrary to the law.

    One additional justification for this abuse of language is this:

    > in discussing the term “moral” wrong, it is important to note that it is society’s morals, and not the individual’s morals, that are the standard for judging moral wrong under M’Naghten. If wrong meant moral wrong judged by the individual’s own conscience, this would seriously undermine the criminal law, for it would allow one who violated the law to be excused from criminal responsibility solely because, in his own conscience, his act was not morally wrong.

    (that is from the same opinion.) In other words, “right and wrong” refers to societal judgments on the matter, and thus wrong is equated to illegality because the legal code reflects our collective morals.

    I’m not justifying it. i would prefer the laws to say “illegal” if they really mean illegal. But as policy they are right on point. it is rare for a person to do wrong believing it to be wrong as they do it. thus if we went by personal morality, no one would be guilty of anything.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  35. We don’t need to profile!

    We don’t need to profile. At the Center for Aggression Management, we use easily-applied, measurable and culturally-neutral body language and behavior exhibited by people who intend to perpetrate a terrorist act. This unique methodology utilizes proven research from the fields of psychology, medicine and law enforcement which, when joined together, identify clear, easily-used physiologically-based characteristics of individuals who are about to engage in terrorist activities in time to prevent their Moment of Commitment.

    Since the foiled terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, the President has repeatedly stated that there has been a systemic failure as he reiterates his commitment to fill this gap in our security. This incident, like the Fort Hood shooting, exemplifies why our government must apply every valid preventative approach to identify a potential terrorist.

    The myriad methods to identify a terrorist, whether “no-fly list,” “explosive and weapons detection,” mental illness based approaches, “profiling” or “deception detection” – all continue to fail us. Furthermore, the development of deception detection training at Boston Logan Airport demonstrated that the Israeli methods of interrogation will not work in the United States.

    All media outlets are discussing the need for profiling of Muslim Arabs, but profiling does not work for the following three reasons:

    1. In practice, ethnic profiling tells us that within a certain group of people there is a higher probability for a terrorist; it does not tell us who the next terrorist is!

    2. Ethnic profiling is contrary to the value our society places on diversity and freedom from discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, age and/or gender based criteria. If we use profiling it will diminish our position among the majority of affected citizens who support us as a beacon of freedom and liberty.

    3. By narrowing our field of vision, profiling can lead to the consequence of letting terrorists go undetected, because the terrorist may not be part of any known “profile worthy” group – e.g., the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh

    Our unique methodology for screening passengers can easily discern (independently of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, and gender) the defining characteristics of human beings who are about to engage in terrorist acts.

    The question is when will our government use true “hostile intent” through the “continuum of aggressive behavior” to identify potential terrorists? Only when observers focus specifically on “aggressive behavior” do the objective and culturally neutral signs of “aggression” clearly stand out, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters. This method will not only make all citizens safer, but will also pass the inevitable test of legal defensibility given probable action by the ACLU.

    As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab’s entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong. Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?

    Visit our blog at http://blog.AggressionManagement.com where we discuss the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist act on Flight 253.

    John Byrnes (9f1d63)


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